MetroCard (New York City)
|Location||New York City|
|Operator||Metropolitan Transportation Authority|
|Manager||Metropolitan Transportation Authority|
|Currency||USD (Varies[a] maximum load)|
|Unlimited use||Unlimited Ride|
The MetroCard is the payment method for the New York City Subway; New York City Transit buses, including routes operated by Atlantic Express under contract to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), MTA Bus, and Nassau Inter-County Express systems (NICE); PATH; the Roosevelt Island Tramway; AirTrain JFK; and Westchester County's Bee-Line Bus System. It is a thin, plastic card on which the customer electronically loads fares.
The card was introduced in 1992 to enhance the technology of the transit system and eliminate the burden of carrying and collecting tokens. The MTA discontinued the use of tokens in the subway on May 3, 2003, and on buses on December 31, 2003.
The MetroCard is managed by a division of the MTA known as Revenue Control, MetroCard Sales, which is part of the Office of the Executive Vice President. The MetroCard Vending Machines are manufactured by Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc.
The current "swipe" MetroCard is expected to be phased out by 2022, being replaced by a contactless payment system where riders pay for their fare by "waving" or "tapping" credit or debit bank cards, smartphones, and/or MTA-issued smart cards.
- 1 History
- 2 Technology
- 3 Card types
- 4 Fare types
- 5 Purchase options
- 6 Future
- 7 Unauthorized resale and scams
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
On October 30, 1992, the installation of Automated Fare Collection turnstiles began.
On June 1, 1993, MTA distributed 3,000 MetroCards in the first major test of the technology for the entire subway system and the entire bus system. Less than a year later, on January 6, 1994, MetroCard-compatible turnstiles opened at Wall Street on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line (4 and 5 trains) and Whitehall Street – South Ferry on the BMT Broadway Line (N, R, and W trains). All MetroCard turnstiles were installed by May 14, 1997, when the entire bus and subway system accepted MetroCard.
On September 28, 1995, buses on Staten Island started accepting MetroCard, and by the end of 1995, MetroCard was accepted on all New York City Transit buses.
Before 1997, the MetroCard design was blue with yellow lettering. These blue cards are now collector's items. On July 4, 1997, the first free transfers were made available between bus and subway at any location with MetroCard. This program was originally billed as "MetroCard Gold". Card colors changed to the current blue lettering on goldenrod background. On January 1, 1998, bonus free rides (10% of the purchase amount) were given for purchases of $15 or more. On July 4, six months later, 7-Day and 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCards were introduced, at $17 and $63 respectively. A 30-day "Express Bus Plus" MetroCard, allowing unlimited rides on express buses in addition to local buses and the subway, was also introduced at $120. The 1-Day Fun Pass was introduced on January 1, 1999, at a cost of $4.
The first MetroCard Vending Machines (MVMs) were installed on January 25, 1999 in two stations, and by the end of 1999 347 MVMs were in service at 74 stations. On April 13, 2003, tokens were no longer sold. Starting May 4, 2003, tokens were no longer accepted, except on buses. Since the fares were increased from $1.50 to $2.00, bonus free ride amount was increased to 20% of the purchase amount for purchases of $10 or more; tokens were no longer accepted (except for a six-month transition period on buses where they were accepted for $1.50 credit towards the $2 ride). The 1-day unlimited-ride fare increased from $4 to $7, the 7-day unlimited-ride fare increased from $17 to $21, and the 30-Day MetroCard increased from $63 to $70. The 30-day Express Bus Plus was replaced with a 7-day Express Bus Plus card at $33.
On February 27, 2005, the 7-day unlimited-ride fare increased from $21 to $24, the 7-day "Express Bus Plus" unlimited-ride fare increased from $33 to $41, and the 30-Day MetroCard increased from $70 to $76. On March 2, 2008, another set of fare increases was implemented. The 1-day unlimited-ride fare increased from $7 to $7.50, the 7-day unlimited-ride fare increased from $24 to $25, a new 14-day unlimited-ride was introduced that cost $47, and the 30-Day MetroCard increased from $76 to $81. Bonus free ride amount reduced to 15% for purchases of $7 or more. On June 28, 2009, fares were increased from $2 to $2.25, with the bonus going to 15% for every $8. Unlimited cards rose to $8.25 (1-day), $27 (7-day), $45 (7-day express bus), $51.50 (14-day) and $89 (30-day). On December 30, 2010, the bonus value for Pay-Per-Ride decreased to 7% for every $10, and the 1-Day Fun Pass and the 14-Day Unlimited Ride were discontinued altogether. The 7-Day Unlimited Ride increased to $29, the 7-Day Express Bus Plus increased to $50, and the 30-Day Unlimited Ride increased to $104.
In 2012, the MTA allowed advertisements to be printed on the fronts of MetroCards. The backs of MetroCards had already been used for advertisements since 1995. This change meant that advertisers could remove the MTA logo from the fronts of MetroCards.
As a result of Hurricane Sandy, as of October 2012 to the present, three free transfers were offered on the MetroCard:
- Free transfers between the Q22, the Q35, and the Flatbush Avenue–Brooklyn College station. trains at the
- Free transfers between the Q22, either the Q52 Limited or the Q53 Limited, and the Rockaway Boulevard station. train at the
- A three-hour transfer window applied from transfers from any subway station to the Q22 and Q113 routes of MTA Bus, and then to the N31, N32, and N33 routes of NICE.
On December 19, 2012, The MTA voted for the following fare increases:
- Base fare from $2.25 to $2.50.
- 30-Day Unlimited MetroCard fare increases from $104 to $112.
- 7-Day Unlimited MetroCard fare increases from $29 to $30.
- Bonus for pay-per-ride MetroCard decreases from 7% to 5% but the cutoff for the bonus decreases from $10 to $5.
- Single Ride ticket increases from $2.25 to $2.50.
Starting February 20, 2013, people are able to refill cards with both time and value, so that when a MetroCard is filled with both an unlimited card and fare value, the unlimited ride portion is used first where applicable. If not started already, the unlimited ride period would begin when the card is next used, and when the unlimited period expires, the regular fare would be charged. On March 3, 2013, a $1 fee was imposed on new card purchases in-system. However, MetroCards purchased through the Extended Sales retail network carry no new card fee.
On March 22, 2015, the MTA voted for the following fare increases:
- Base Fare – $2.75 Subway and Local Bus (Reduced-Fare $1.35);
- Pay-Per-Ride Bonus - An additional 11% is added to your MetroCard with the purchase or addition of $5.50 or more.
- Express Bus – $6.50 (Reduced-Fare $3.25 off-peak only.);
- 7-Day Unlimited – $31;
- 7-Day Express Bus Plus – $57.25;
- 30-Day Unlimited – $116.50;
- Single Ride ticket – $3.00 (No Reduced-Fare) Sold at vending machines only. Must be used within 2 hours; no transfers included.
On March 19, 2017, the following fare increases went into place:
- Pay-Per-Ride Bonus - Reduced from 11% to 5%.;
- 7-Day Unlimited – $32;
- 7-Day Express Bus Plus – $59.50;
- 30-Day Unlimited – $121;
In October 2017, the MTA started installing eTix-compatible electronic ticketing turnstiles in 14 stations in Manhattan. The eTix system, already used on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad, allows passengers to pay their fares using their phones. The system would originally be for MTA employees only. On October 23, 2017, it was announced that the MetroCard would be phased out and replaced by a contactless fare payment system also by Cubic, with fare payment being made using Apple Pay, Google Wallet, debit/credit cards with near-field communication enabled, or radio-frequency identification cards. The October 23 announcement calls for the expansion of this system to a general-use electronic fare payment system at 500 subway turnstiles and 600 buses by late 2018, with all buses and subway stations using electronic fare collection by 2020. However, support of the MetroCard is slated to remain until 2023. The unnamed replacement fare system has been criticized because the new turnstiles could be hacked, thereby leaving credit card and phone information vulnerable to theft.
During a swipe, the MetroCard is read, re-written to, then check-read to verify correct encoding.
Each MetroCard stored value card is assigned a unique, permanent ten-digit serial number when it is manufactured. The value is stored magnetically on the card itself, while the card's transaction history is held centrally in the Automated Fare Collection (AFC) Database. When a card is purchased and fares are loaded onto it, the MetroCard Vending Machine or station agent's computer stores the amount of the purchase onto the card and updates the database, identifying the card by its serial number. Whenever the card is swiped at a turnstile, the value of the card is read, the new value is written, the customer is let through, and then the central database is updated with the new transaction as soon as possible. Cards are not validated in real time against the database when swiped to pay the fare. The AFC Database is necessary to maintain transaction records to track a card if needed. It has actually been used to acquit criminal suspects by placing them away from the scene of a crime. The database also stores a list of MetroCards that have been invalidated for various reasons (such as lost or stolen student or unlimited monthly cards), and it distributes the list to turnstiles in order to deny access to a revoked card.
The older blue MetroCards were not capable of the many kinds of fare options that the gold ones currently offer. The format of the magnetic stripe used by the blue MetroCard offered very little other than the standard pay-per-swipe fare. Also, gold MetroCards allow groups of people (up to four) to ride together using a single pay-per-swipe MetroCard. The gold MetroCard keeps track of the number of swipes at a location in order to allow those same number of people to transfer at a subsequent location, if applicable. The MetroCard system was designed to ensure backward compatibility, which allowed a smooth transition from the blue format to gold.
The SingleRide Ticket (introduced to replace subway tokens and single cash fares) is a piece of paper with a magnetic strip on the front, and with the date and time of purchase stamped on the back.
- $3.00 for one subway or local bus ride, with one free bus/bus transfer (issued by Bus Operator upon request). No subway/bus or bus/subway transfers are provided on this card. NOTE: No transfers from Select Bus Service to any other buses with Single Ride Tickets.
- SingleRide tickets expire two hours from time of purchase
- SingleRide tickets can only be purchased at MetroCard Vending Machines.
SingleRide Tickets are not frequently used, having been used by only 3% of subway riders in 2009.
Although the Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard is accepted on PATH, the regular SingleRide ticket is not. However, a PATH SingleRide ticket is available from MVMs in PATH stations for $2.75, valid for 2 hours and only on PATH.
- $5.50–80 initial value in any increment (though vending machines only sell values in multiples of 5 cents).
- Card purchases or refills equal to or greater than $5.50 receive a 5% bonus.
- $2.75 deducted for each subway, Staten Island Railway, or local bus use, excluding valid transfers.
- $6.50 deducted for express bus use (NYCT bus or MTA Bus).
- $7.50 deducted for BXM4C Bee-Line Bus (Transfers only allowed from the BXM4C).
- $2.75 deducted per use on PATH (no transfer privileges).
- $5 deducted per use on AirTrain JFK.
- Up to 4 people can ride together on a single Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard.
- Transfers available within two hours of initial entry:
- One free transfer from
- subway to local bus
- bus to subway
- bus to local bus
- express bus to express bus
- bus or subway to Staten Island Railway
- subway to subway between the 59th Street ( trains) or Lexington Avenue–59th Street ( trains) stations and the Lexington Avenue–63rd Street ( , and trains) station
- Two consecutive free transfers are available with the MetroCard for the following transfers. The transfers must be made in order or in reverse order, and must be made within two hours of each other (e.g. when one makes the first transfer, he or she has two hours to make the second transfer).
- Between Staten Island bus routes crossing the Staten Island Railway, through St. George Ferry Terminal, and then any MTA local bus or NYC subway service below Fulton Street in Lower Manhattan.
- Between the B61, the B62, and any bus route connecting with either the B61 or the B62 (not necessarily in this order):
- Between the B70, the S53, and any bus route connecting with the S53.
- Between the Q29, the Q33, and the Q72 to LaGuardia Airport only (transfers between the Q29, the Q33, and the Rego Park-bound Q72 require a second fare).
- $3.75 for each local bus or subway to express bus transfer.
- Transfers with coins (pennies and half-dollar coins not accepted) are good for use on one connecting local bus route (restrictions apply).
- Customers transferring to suburban buses from another system with a lower base fare must pay the difference between the fare on the first bus and the fare on the second bus.
- No transfers to the BxM4C.
- No free transfer between PATH and NYC Subway, Bus and MTA Bus.
- One free transfer from
- Cards can be refilled
- in 1 cent increments at token booths.
- in 5 cent increments at vending machines.
- up to $80 in one transaction and up to a total value of $100.
- with unlimited ride time in 7 or 30 day increments.
- Card balance may be transferred to a new card
- MTA New York City Transit subways, local buses, and limited buses
- MTA New York City Transit express buses (including Academy)
- MTA Bus (local, limited, and express)
- MTA Select Bus Service
- MTA Staten Island Railway
- Nassau Inter-County Express
- PATH (operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)
- AirTrain JFK (operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey) terminals located at the Howard Beach or Sutphin Blvd/Jamaica subway stations.
- Roosevelt Island Tramway
- Westchester County Bee-Line Bus
However, PATH does not accept reduced fare MetroCard.
- Works just like a pay per ride or unlimited MetroCard, but is automatically refilled from a linked credit or debit card .
- An EasyPayXpress account is opened with $30 or 30 days ($121). For pay per ride customers, another $30 is automatically added when balance drops below $20. As of Jan 2015, the automatic replenishment amount has been increased to $45 (plus a $2.25 bonus). To reduce this, a one-time payment may be made online before the balance drops below $20.
- All rules for standard pay per ride or unlimited cards apply.
- EasyPay customers can review the account and ride usage on-line.
- Reduced-fare EasyPay version converts from Pay-Per-Ride to Unlimited rides (during that billing cycle) once the value of fares used meet or exceed the cost of a reduced-fare 30-Day Unlimited Ride card. Express bus fares do not contribute.
- Cannot be used on PATH trains.
JFK Airport AirTrain Discount MetroCard
- 10 trips on AirTrain JFK at $25. This card can only be purchased at specially marked MetroCard Vending Machines. It can be refilled, and once done so, becomes a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard. However, although the AirTrain fare is also payable using a regular Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard, no discount is given for Pay-Per-Ride cards.
- Unlimited-ride 30-day card for $40. This card is only valid on AirTrain JFK.
- 7-Day Unlimited Ride Card, $32 for unlimited subway and local bus rides until midnight on the seventh day following first usage.
- 30-Day Unlimited Ride Card, $121 for unlimited subway and local bus rides until midnight on the thirtieth day following first usage.
- 7-Day Express Bus Plus Card, $59.50  for unlimited express bus, local bus, and subway rides until midnight on the seventh day following first usage.
- 30-Day Unlimited and 7-Day Express Bus Plus Cards that are purchased using a credit, debit or ATM card from a MetroCard vending machine can be reported lost or stolen to receive a pro-rated credit for the card.
- 30-Day AirTrain JFK Unlimited Ride Card, $40 for unlimited trips on the AirTrain (operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey) until midnight on the thirtieth day from first usage. This card can only be purchased at specially marked MetroCard Vending Machines at the Howard Beach – JFK Airport ( train) or Sutphin Boulevard – Archer Avenue – JFK Airport ( trains) stations and at MetroCard vendors in JFK Airport. There are no transfer privileges with this card as it only works on the AirTrain. This is the only unlimited card accepted on the AirTrain.
- Any Unlimited Ride Card cannot be used at the same subway station or bus route for 18 minutes after it is first used.
- Unlimited Ride MetroCard can be refilled in increments of 7 or 30 days or with pay-per-ride time, but time is used before value unless the time on the card cannot be applied to the ride taken.
- The 7 Day Express Bus Plus card is the only unlimited card that can be used on express buses.
- Unlimited Ride MetroCards are not valid on the Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH).
- New York City Subway
- New York City Bus
- MTA Bus
- Staten Island Railway
- Nassau Inter-County Express
- Westchester County Bee-Line Bus
- Roosevelt Island Tramway
- X23/X24 Academy Bus service (7-Day Express Bus Plus only)
- AirTrain JFK (AirTrain JFK Unlimited card only)
- In New York City, issued to some New York City public and private school students allowing discounted access to the NYCT buses and trains, depending on the distance traveled between their school and their home. The card program is managed by the NYCDOE Office of Pupil Transportation.
- In Nassau County, Student MetroCards are issued by individual schools which have pre-paid for the cards.
- Four types of cards:
Students who receive a student MetroCard must live:
- Up to 0.5 miles away for a half-fare card if they are in grades K-2
- More than 0.5 miles away for a full-fare card if they are in grades K-2, or for a half-fare card if they are in grades 3-6
- More than 1.0 miles away for a full-fare card if they are in grades 3-6, or for a half-fare card if they are in grades 7-12
- More than 1.5 miles away for a full-fare card if they are in grades 7-12
- New York City Subway and Bus
- Staten Island Railway
- Nassau Inter-County Express (blue and purple cards only)
Disabled/Senior Citizen Reduced-Fare MetroCard
Senior citizen MetroCards are received via application and act as a combination photo ID and MetroCard.
- Allows half-fare within the MTA system. (Express Bus during off-peak hours only)
- Half fare is also available on the 7-day and 30-day Unlimited MetroCards.
- Card back is color-coded to match gender of card holder.
- Card face is marked as "Photo ID Pass"
- Temporary replacement cards are purple with no photo (Autogate version is blue). (Value cannot be refunded if stolen or lost)
- "Autogate" cards issued to persons with mobility impairments are accepted at wheelchair doors at selected stations.
- Senior & Disabled Reduced-fare EasyPay (automatic refill) card also available (details above).
This type of card is accepted at everywhere the Pay-Per-Ride or time-based MetroCard is valid at, with two exceptions: it is not valid on the PATH, and it is not valid for ticket purchase on New York City-bound LIRR and Metro-North trains in the morning. Reduced-Fare MetroCards (in any variety) are also not accepted at PATH stations. Reduced fare customers who do not have a MetroCard may purchase a full-fare round trip MetroCard from a subway station agent by presenting proof of eligibility.
This type of card caused complaints because it took up to three months to replace.
All fare payments must be made using MetroCard or coins (dollar bills and half-dollar coins are not accepted for fare payment on any buses that accept MetroCard, nor in fare payment stations for Select Bus Service buses).
All fares are in US dollars.
|MTA Bus/NYC Bus: Local, Limited-Stop, Select Bus Service,
Bee-Line (except BxM4C bus), NICE, PATH
NYC Subway, SIR, Roosevelt Island Tramway
Academy bus X23/X24)
|BxM4C bus||Student MetroCard||AirTrain JFK||Access-A-Ride
||$1.25||$6.50 ||$3.25 ||$7.50||$3.75||Free||$1.35||$2.10||$5||$2.75||$3.75
($75 for a book of 20 tickets)
Unlimited MetroCard fares
All fares are in US dollars. There is a $1 purchase fee for all new MetroCard purchases within the subway system or at railroad stations (except for expiring or damaged MetroCards or MetroCards bought as part of a UniTicket).
|7-Day Unlimited||30-Day Unlimited||7-Day Express Bus Plus||10-Trip AirTrain JFK||30-Day AirTrain JFK|
All transfers with MetroCard are free from bus to subway, local bus to local bus, and subway to local bus. For transfers to express buses from local buses (except for the BxM4C), an additional US$3.50 is deducted from a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard. With coins, transfers are available to different local buses only, with some restrictions. All transfers are good for two hours. Transfers are available upon request when boarding only.
SingleRide tickets are valid for one ride within two hours after purchase on local buses and the subway. One bus to bus transfer is allowed, no subway-bus or bus-subway transfer is allowed.
On the Select Bus Service routes except S79: customers paying with coins requiring a transfer must board via the front door and request a transfer from the operator. All other customers may board via any of the three doors on Select Bus Service buses only.
Bee-Line customers needing to transfer to Connecticut Transit (I-Bus and route 11), Transport of Rockland (Tappan ZEExpress), Putnam Transit (PART 2), or Housatonic Area Regional Transit (Ridgefield-Katonah Shuttle) services must ask for a transfer, even if paying with MetroCard. The BxM4C does not accept paper or MetroCard transfers, but it does issue transfers to/from other buses and the subway.
MetroCard Bus Transfer
The MetroCard Bus Transfer is issued upon request to passengers who pay cash fares on buses accepting MetroCard. The transfer is inserted into the fare box on the second bus, which retains it. Westchester Bee Line bus system and Nassau Inter-County Express and MTA New York City Transit bus is free to transfer from one bus to another bus that is accepted with MetroCard. The bus transfer is paper like the SingleRide Metrocard. This transfer does not grant cash customers subway access.
For suburban transfers, if the fare paid to get the transfer is less than that required on the second bus, the difference must be paid on boarding. For transfers from NICE to New York City Transit, no step up fee is required.
The predecessor to the MetroCard bus transfer was the original bus transfer. These paper tickets allowed bus to bus transfers. Available in pads of several different colors for use at different times, boroughs or directions, they would be torn at a certain time-marked line to indicate when the transfer would expire. A version of this still exists today as the "General Order Transfer" (aka "block ticket") which is provided to customers as they leave the subway system during service disruptions to re-enter the system at another point (often via a shuttle bus).
There are restrictions on transfers, as noted below:
There are no out-of-system subway-to-subway transfers allowed (i.e., exiting the turnstile and entering again; see also Shanghai Metro variant), with the exception of a transfer between Lexington Avenue / 59th Street on the IRT Lexington Avenue and BMT Broadway Lines and Lexington Avenue / 63rd Street on the IND 63rd Street Line. Until 2011, an extra out-of-system subway-to-subway transfer was allowed between 23rd Street – Ely Avenue/Long Island City – Court Square on the IND Queens Boulevard and Crosstown Lines and 45th Road – Court House Square on the IRT Flushing Line. This transfer was eliminated in 2011 with the opening of an in-system transfer passageway among the three stations.
Additional exceptions may be added on a case by case basis, usually due to construction's making a regular transfer unavailable.
For Pay-per-Ride customers, there is no free transfer back onto the same route on which the fare was initially paid, or between the following buses:
- M1, M2, M3, M4: No transfer between uptown Madison Avenue and downtown 5 Avenue buses.
- M31 and M57: No transfer between eastbound and westbound buses along 57 Street. Transfers are available between buses travelling in the same direction, however.
- M96 and M106: No transfer between eastbound and westbound buses along 96 Street, even between buses travelling in the same direction.
- M101, M102, M103: No transfer between uptown 3rd Avenue and downtown Lexington Avenue buses.
- The Bronx:
- Bx1 and Bx2: No transfer between southbound and northbound buses on the Grand Concourse.
- Bx40 and Bx42: No transfer between eastbound and westbound buses along Tremont Avenue.
- No transfers between bus routes that are not listed on the timetable of the route on which fare was paid. In essence, one cannot transfer between bus routes that do not intersect.
- No transfers from any route to the BxM4C, even with a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard. Transfers are valid, however, from the BxM4C.
- No transfers between a Manhattan bound QM1 and a Queens bound QM5 or QM6 bus or vice versa. In essence, one can only transfer between the QM1, QM5, and QM6 if the bus is traveling in the same general direction.
- No transfers between a Manhattan bound QM5 and a Queens bound QM1 or QM6 bus or vice versa. In essence, one can only transfer between the QM1, QM5, and QM6 if the bus is traveling in the same general direction.
- No transfers between a Manhattan bound QM6 and a Queens bound QM1 or QM5 bus or vice versa. In essence, one can only transfer between the QM1, QM5, and QM6 if the bus is traveling in the same general direction.
There are no subway-to-bus or bus-to-subway transfers without a MetroCard allowed, with one exception:
- B42 customers traveling from south of Flatlands Avenue in Brooklyn to the Rockaway Parkway station on the BMT Canarsie Line are transported directly into the subway system without having to pass through turnstiles (as the former trolley line had a loop installed within fare control). Likewise, the B42 Rockaway Parkway Line departs the Rockaway Parkway subway station within subway fare control.
All new MetroCard purchases are charged a $1 fee, except to reduced fare customers and those exchanging damaged / expired cards. This purchase fee does not apply to MetroCard refills.
Subway station booths
Booths staffed by MTA station agents (at specified time periods) are located in all MTA subway stations. Every type of MetroCard can be purchased at a booth, with the exception of the SingleRide ticket (purchased at the MetroCard Vending Machine) and MetroCards specific to other transit systems (AirTrain JFK and PATH). All booth transactions must be in cash.
MetroCard vending machines
MetroCard Vending Machines (MVMs) are located in all subway stations, PATH stations (with the added ability to reload SmartLink cards), Staten Island Ferry terminals, Roosevelt Island Tramway stations, and the Hempstead Transit Center, Eltingville Transit Center, and Central Terminal at LaGuardia Airport.
MVMs debuted on January 25, 1999 and are now found in two models, both of which allow customers to purchase any type of MetroCard through a touchscreen. The machines also comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, through use of Braille and a headset jack: audible commands for each menu item are provided once a headset is connected and the proper sequence is keyed through the keypad; all non-visual commands are then entered via the keypad instead of the touchscreen.
- Types of MVMs
- Standard MVMs are large vending machines that accept cash, credit cards, and debit cards, and are in every subway station. Cash transactions are required for purchases of less than $1, and they can return up to $8 in coin change. MVMs can also reload previously-issued MetroCards.
- MetroCard Express Machines (MEMs) are smaller MVMs that only accept credit and ATM/debit cards.
- PATH fare vending machines can dispense MetroCards, as well.
MetroCard bus and van
A number of MetroCard sales vans and a MetroCard bus (a retired bus converted for sales duty) routinely travel to specific locations in New York City and Westchester County, stopping for a day (or half a day) at the announced locations. MetroCards can be purchased or refilled directly from these vehicles. Reduced-fare MetroCard applications can also be processed on the bus, including taking photographs for these cards.
The MetroCard van serves all five boroughs and Westchester County, while the MetroCard bus serves Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, and parts of Brooklyn.
Neighborhood MetroCard merchants
Vendors can apply to sell MTA fare media at their business. Only presealed, prevalued cards are available, and no fee is charged. A comprehensive listing of neighborhood MetroCard merchants can be found on the MTA website.
Commuter railroad ticket vending machines
Commuter railroad ticket vending machines (TVM) for the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad offer the option to purchase combined tickets/passes and MetroCards. A $5.50 MetroCard is available with a round-trip ticket, and a $50 MetroCard is available with a monthly pass. In addition, the machines sell separate $25 MetroCards. TVMs at Jamaica Station and Penn Station sell AirTrain JFK monthly passes on the back of LIRR tickets. All cards sold from these machines are of thick paper stock, not the normal plastic.
Beginning in 2007, with the start of the S89 bus service, a combined Hudson–Bergen Light Rail ("HBLR") monthly pass and monthly MetroCard became available at NJ Transit ticket vending machines at HBLR stations.
In 2006, the MTA and Port Authority announced plans to replace the magnetic strip with smart cards.
On July 1, 2006, MTA launched a six-month pilot program to test the new "contact-less" smart card fare collection system, initially ending on December 31, 2006 but extended until May 31, 2007. This program was tested at all stations on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line and at four stations in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. The testing system utilized Citibank MasterCard's Paypass keytags. This smart card system was intended to ease congestion near the fare control area by reducing time spent paying for fare. MTA and other transportation authorities in the region say they will eventually implement system-wide.
New Fare Payment System
In October 2017, MTA signed a $573 million contract with Cubic Transportation Systems for a "New Fare Payment System". This will use the contactless payment system, with riders "waving" or "tapping" credit or debit bank cards, smartphones, and/or MTA-issued smart cards to pay their fare. This contactless system was originally developed by Transport for London at a cost of £11m, before being licensed to Cubic for worldwide sale.
MTA expects to spend at least six years rolling out the system, with new electronic readers and vending machines, with the current swipe MetroCard being retired by 2022. The replacement could be in partial use by 2018.
In October 2017, the MTA started installing eTix-compatible electronic ticketing turnstiles in 14 stations in Manhattan. The eTix system, already used on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad, allows passengers to pay their fares using their phones. The system would originally be for MTA employees only.
The MetroCard system is susceptible to various types of unauthorized resale. At times, this may involve individuals charging to swipe another commuter into the subway system. Usually these frauds involve the person preventing or dissuading the commuter from using his or her own MetroCard, and then charging the commuter for entry to the system (entry is gained by a method that costs the individual nothing). The individual can use an array of unlimited cards, selling rides for a discounted price. Multiple cards are needed because of the 18-minute delay between each swipe at the same station. Using unlimited cards, one is able to sell rides for a discounted price. In addition, MetroCard Vending Machines are programmed to disable the bill or coin acceptor after a series of rejected bills or coins, which can result in a row of MVMs all saying "No Bills" or "No Coins".
All aspects of this scam have been recently prohibited by MTA policy and a New York State law. It is now a crime to:
- deface a MetroCard
- sell a swipe (although selling the cards themselves is allowed)
- enter the system without properly paying a fare (a fare evasion).
The introduction of MetroCards did eliminate one class of unauthorized resale. When the NYC subway still used tokens, token suckers would steal tokens by jamming turnstile coin slots, waiting for other passengers to deposit tokens (only to discover that the turnstile did not work), then returning to suck out the token. Token-sucking ended with the retirement of tokens in 2003.
The MetroCard does have a magnetic stripe, but both the track offsets and the encoding differ from standard Magstripe cards. It is a proprietary format developed by the contractor Cubic. Off-the-shelf reader/writers for the standard cards are useless, and even hypothetically could work only with both physical and software modification. Some have had partial success decoding it using audio tape recorder heads, laptop sound cards, and custom Linux software.
- For unlimited-ride cards, one can make a theoretically infinite number of trips, so there is no credit limit. For pay-per-ride cards, the maximum initial amount is $80.
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